Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Price of Convenience

We got it so easy these days. Think about it: our water comes conveniently pre-packaged and sanitized for us. We don't even have to turn on the faucet. Our cleaners do the work, so we don't have to. Our dental floss comes on nifty little plastic handles so we don't have to work at flossing. Our little prunes come individually wrapped (???), and all kinds of foods come in perfect little serving sizes in perfect little plastic containers so we never even have to worry our little heads about portions. Heck, even dog food comes that way.

There is a price to pay for all this convenience. Our landfills are filled, our oceans have giant swirly patches of garbage (visible from SPACE!!!), our kids are slowly being poisoned with BPA... should I even mention the oil needed for all this stuff? Our cleaners are so strong that we can't breathe when we spray them. We don't want to have to scrub. I have to wonder, what is so wrong with using a little elbow grease? We are so consumed with being fast, easy, efficient, that we have forgotten that it's OK to have to WORK once in awhile. "Our grandparents had it so hard." Really? Actually, I think they had character and knew how to DO stuff. They were pretty cool. They were tough. They weren't afraid of a little hard work. They didn't need products to do their work and thinking for them.

So, have we made a better world for ourselves? Or have we just fallen prey to what the leading companies want us to buy? I can't help but feel that our values have fallen off target amidst all these "modern conveniences". I see a lot of mentality that we don't want to have to work as hard as our grandparents did, and we want our children to have it easier than we did. I'd like to challenge that mentality. Weren't our grandparents pretty cool people? My grandpa was a guy I really wanted to know. He died when I was a little too young to appreciate him, but from what I know of him, I wish he could have been around a lot longer. He had the best garden I have ever seen. He built his own house, and it was a GOOD house. He could go into the woods and find all the food he would ever need to survive. Not that he would have ever gotten lost. And he didn't need a cell phone or a GPS. I'll bet he had forgotten more than most people today know how to do.

I think about this a lot. It occurs to me that perhaps we should never have forgotten these things that we "used" to do. We need to get back to them. I understand, it's all in the name of progress, and it is a necessary evolution. But I wonder what progress has brought us. We are fatter, we are lazier, and we are darned near helpless without all our "stuff". The little bit of fresh water on the planet is polluted with all our super-chemicals. Our immunities are shot because we think we have to use antibacterial soap everywhere and we don't dare expose our kids to the germs they NEED to be exposed to. Allergies, asthma, autism. THESE are just a few of the prices we have been paying, and our kids are holding the bills.

Why rake? We have leaf-blowers. It's easier. Why shovel snow? We have snow-blowers. It's easier. Why scrub? It's easier to spray down the shower and walk away. We sure don't have time to do any of that anymore. After all, we have to spend much more time at our jobs... we have pallets of bottled water to pay for. And gym memberships, to make up for the exercise we aren't getting anywhere else.

I think I'll go unwrap me a prune now. They're just so darned convenient.